Influenced by Willie Nelson, Radiohead, The Beatles and Grateful Dead, Grant Nesmith is casting his net wide to bring you a fusion of various genres. After releasing his critically acclaimed debut album Between Tides in 2020, Grant is capturing the attention of audiences across the globe. We speak with the US-based singer-songwriter about his new album Dreams of the Coast, discovering new music and much more.
Why did you decide to enter the music industry?
When I was in 6th Grade, I found my parents’ old record player and their Beatles albums. Dropping the needle on those records and hearing songs like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ for the first time completely blew me away! I had to learn how to play guitar immediately!
What can you tell us about your album Dreams of the Coast?
It was written and recorded here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during the heat of the summer. My good buddy Ed Dennis produced the album at his studio, Atlantic Coast Recording. I had the honour of collaborating with some incredibly talented musicians and artists. Sadler Vaden and Gene Elders contributed some lead guitar and fiddle respectively. My good buds from Ocean Forest played and sang on a few tracks. Ed contributed pedal steel, electric guitar and harmony vocals. Nell Ciaccio, who I’m honoured to sing with in church on Sundays, sang on a few tracks. It was a really fun album to make. We had a blast.
This is definitely a studio album. We used a lot of the same methods that bands from the late 60s used on their records, such as speeding up and slowing down tape, recording guitars backwards to tape, singing and running instruments through a Leslie Speaker. We had so much fun experimenting!
If you could change one thing about the album what would it be?
That’s an easy one. I would’ve had my buddy Cole Rateliff play drums on every song. He played on the title track ‘Dreams Of The Coast’, ‘Morning’ and ‘Untitled’. He’s such a better drummer than I am and it’s not even close 😄
What is your creative process?
I’ll start with a chord progression either on guitar or piano. I’ll start humming a melody along until I find something that sticks. Once I have a solid foundation I’ll come up with a nice chorus and possibly a bridge. Next, I’ll mess around with different structures until I find the best flow possible. Lyrics are the hardest for me so they usually come last.
Once the songwriting is complete, I’ll take it up to the studio. This is where the fun really starts! We’ll get a click track and layer the instruments one by one until it sounds like a song.
You collaborated with Sadler Vaden and Gene Elders on Dreams of the Coast, how do you think these collaborations contributed to the album?
Just to have those guys on the record elevated the songs to a different level. Gene Elders has played with George Strait since the mid-80s. He gave us some great insight on what George and his band would do at certain parts and suggestions on how to blend the fiddle with pedal steel and lead guitar.
Sadler is just a monster guitar player. His tone is off the charts. He changed a few chords in the title track ‘Dreams Of The Coast’ which really made the song better.
What do you hope people take from your music?
I hope it’s uplifting and brings them joy. Don’t get me wrong, I love sad and dark songs too, but this album definitely has a feel-good, summertime in Myrtle Beach, waves are going off vibe.
Where do you want to be this time next year?
Honestly, I’m perfectly content with where I am. I may be one of the only people in the music business to say this, but I have no desire to go on the road and play shows every night. I have a beautiful wife and daughter and I enjoy being able to spend as much time with them as I do. I only play a few shows each year on purpose, to make it a special occasion and an event when I do play out.
How does writing music as a solo artist compare to performing with a band?
Writing music as a solo artist there’s a lot more attention to detail. You can dive deeper into every little idea as a solo artist. I tend to write on the piano a lot more now because when the band was playing live all the time, I only played guitar.
There’s a feeling when you’re playing with a band that is indescribable. The closest thing I can compare it to is riding a perfect wave. You look over to your left and your buddy’s grinning ear to ear thumping the bass, your other pal is rocking out on the drums driving the song. It’s just awesome! So I guess playing solo is more balanced. Not as much of a risk and not as much of a reward.
What do you think is the best way to discover music nowadays?
I find new music all the time using Spotify. Their suggestions on “music you may like” is usually spot on. Bandcamp is a great way as well. If I’m wearing a band out on Spotify, I’ll go to their website or Bandcamp page and buy merch from them. There are a few independent blogs and album review sites I love reading too.
Do you have any future plans?
I’ve already written some new songs for the next album. I’m stoked to get back in the studio and get to work. I want to work more and more with our local businesses. Myrtle Beach’s main source of income is tourism. There are so many chains and big corporations here that it’s almost impossible to survive as an independent, local company.
For Dreams Of The Coast, everything was done here in Myrtle Beach. Fin First did the album art, Design Cypher did my logo, press photos and website, Victory Hill did the promo video and we’ll be shooting a music video next month and I drank New South Brewing’s famous DIPA, “Dirty Myrtle” while writing and recording the record 😄! So my future plans are to work more and more with these incredibly talented local artists so we can all raise each other up together.